Saturday, March 08, 2008

John McCain: America's neighborhoods are like Baghdad

By Creature

John McCain: "There are problems in America with safe neighborhoods" just like Baghdad. Watch it (and watch how he catches himself, but still can't put the genie back in the bottle).

Funny, I was just reading about the rash of car bombs, suicide bombers, and headless homicides here in the city. Maybe it's time for a "surge" in Manhattan, too. And, this is the man Hillary Clinton thinks has crossed the commander-in-chief threshold. Incredible.

(H/T to me and my RedLasso account. Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Obama wins Wyoming

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'm sure the Clinton campaign will spin the result with a heaping of the usual excuses -- even though Hillary, Bill, and Chelsea campaigned there -- but Obama has won today's Wyoming caucuses by a wide margin.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, and with huge turnout, Obama has a decisive 58 to 41 lead over Clinton -- for more, see Jeralyn Merritt, who has been live-blogging the event.

And so now it's on to Mississippi March Madness next Tuesday.


Update: With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Obama is up 59 to 40.

Update 2: Final result -- Obama 61, Clinton 38. (For more, see Cillizza and the AP.)

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An unstoppable farce

By Creature

Another "dream team" reference today from the Clinton Camp.

You know, if I were a cynical person, I'd say this "dream team" talk was just a way to deceive voters into thinking that a vote for Hillary is also a vote for Obama.

Thankfully, I'm not the cynical type.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)


For more, see ABC and CNN. What a pathetic, loathsome act of desperation this is, eh? So typically Clintonian. -- MJWS

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The Quantico Circuit -- second peek

By Carol Gee

The "Quantico circuit" is a second peek, given to us this week from whistle blower Baback Pasdar. It's a look at the government's warrantless wiretapping program - east coast base. We know that the NSA and the FBI have and use the capacity to scoop up all of our electronic phone, cell phone, e-mails or other communications. The OIG and DNI Mike McConnell admitted as much. From my earlier South by Southwest post, "DNI McConnell's Primer on Intelligence" -- Jan. 17, 2008, I quote:

Intelligence information cannot be made public because it might compromise the intelligence sources - where we got the information, and methods – how we came by the information. What information should be collected? There are billions of bits of potential communication intelligence data every day on phones and the Internet. It is a huge challenge to prioritize what is most important to our customers the decision makers.

Feds have a backdoor into wireless carrier from Wired Threat Level (3/6/08). To quote:

A U.S. government office in Quantico, Virginia, has direct, high-speed access to a major wireless carrier's systems, exposing customers' voice calls, data packets and physical movements to uncontrolled surveillance, according to a computer security consultant who says he worked for the carrier in late 2003.

"What I thought was alarming is how this carrier ended up essentially allowing a third party outside their organization to have unfettered access to their environment," Babak Pasdar, now CEO of New York-based Bat Blue told THREAT LEVEL. "I wanted to put some access controls around it; they vehemently denied it. And when I wanted to put some logging around it, they denied that."

Pasdar's Allegations were well summarized by Brian Beutler at The Media Consortium of 3/7/08. Buetler includes valuable document links to [1]-GAP "talking points to Congressional staff" and [2]-Pasdar's affidavit (pdf). To quote:

The good people at the whistleblower protection outfit Government Accountability Project have released some documents about Babak Pasdar’s FISA allegations. They can be accessed [1]-here and [2]-here.

[2] . . . significant information about any mobile phone subscribers, including –
  • listening in and recording all conversations en-mass;

  • collecting and recording mobile phone data use en-mass;

  • obtaining the data they accessed from their mobile phone (Internet access, e-mail, web);

  • trending their calling patterns and other call behavior;

  • identifying inbound and outbound callers;

  • tracking all in and outbound calls

  • tracing the user’s physical location

The U.S. House of Representatives is not yet done with this. Blogger "emptywheel" referred to a letter by Rep. Jon Dingle urging his colleagues to get more answers on this matter before finalizing actions of the new FISA law. The Outlook series delinates more of what Congress may be considering on the matter:

Three powerful House Commerce Committee Chairmen strongly urged their colleagues Thursday to defer acting on requests for retroactive immunity and to demand more information from the White House and the telecommunications companies in the wake of disclosures by another whistleblower that the government apparently has been granted an open gateway to customer information and calls by a major telecommunications company.

The first peek came from Mark Klein two years ago. The story, "Whistle blower outs NSA Spy Room" came from Wired on 4/7/06. To quote:

AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers' internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit against the company.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That
class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.

Earlier hints about the Quantico circuit -- Seymour M. Hersh wrote"Listening In" for The New Yorker on 5/29/06. To quote:

After the attacks of September 11, 2001, it was clear that the intelligence community needed to get more aggressive and improve its performance. The Administration, deciding on a quick fix, returned to the tactic that got intelligence agencies in trouble thirty years ago: intercepting large numbers of electronic communications made by Americans. The N.S.A.’s carefully constructed rules were set aside.

Last December, the Times reported that the N.S.A. was listening in on calls between people in the United States and people in other countries, and a few weeks ago USA Today reported that the agency was collecting information on millions of private domestic calls. A security consultant working with a major telecommunications carrier told me that his client set up a top-secret high-speed circuit between its main computer complex and Quantico, Virginia, the site of a government-intelligence computer center. This link provided direct access to the carrier’s network core—the critical area of its system, where all its data are stored. “What the companies are doing is worse than turning over records,” the consultant said. “They’re providing total access to all the data.”

Good Roundups on this story --

Is there anything that can be done at this stage of the game? Let's recap where we are. Glenn Greenwald's most recent post is updated with this info:

. . . Time will tell, and shortly. Virtually everyone expects the House leadership's approach to be unveiled this upcoming week. We'll see whether this report is inaccurate, and if so, whether it's inaccurate in small details or if the gist is wrong. One fact that doesn't seem in dispute: Jay Rockefeller has been the principal impediment, refusing to concede any meaningful point. . .

UPDATE III: I want to underscore that some of the surveillance safeguards which TPM suggests the House may include in its draft bill are substantial and important. Those shouldn't be minimized. That includes many of the protections which made the RESTORE ACT such a superior bill to Rockefeller's Senate bill -- such as prohibitions on reversing targeting of U.S. citizens. So, there is that.

But it remains to be seen if the House bill really ends up including those protections and, far more importantly, if they really stand firm behind them (it's impossible to envision the White House or Rockefeller agreeing to them). Moreover, nobody with whom I've spoken -- including those most emphatically denying some part of the report here -- denies that the House is overwhelmingly likely ultimately to bestow amnesty to lawbreaking telecoms.

At best, then, it's possible (though highly unlikely, in my view) that the House will end up marginally improving some of the surveillance provisions in the Senate bill, but still give telecom amnesty and needlessly gut many of the key protections of FISA. And that's the best-case scenario. There are far worse ones.

Bookmark this for Monday action -- Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake says, "Let's hit the phones and faxes." Glenn Greenwald agrees, "At the very least, it can't hurt to contact them and share your views on what they're doing." From an earlier "FISA showdown" post, here is a list of free "800" numbers at the capitol, through which you can call Senate offices (courtesy of Firedoglake). I can verify that they work. I reached 14 different senatorial staff members directly. To quote:

  • 1-800-828-0498
  • 1-800-459-1887
  • 1-800-614-2803
  • 1-866-340-9281
  • 1-866-338-1015
  • 1-877-851-6437

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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I guess they really aren't fully vetted

By Edward Copeland

For all their bellicose ranting that there's "no more surprises" and there's nothing to see here, the Clintons still are trying to block the release of certain documents relating to Bill's presidency, this time all those concerning Bill's pardons. As reported by USA Today:

LITTLE ROCK — Federal archivists at the Clinton Presidential Library are blocking the release of hundreds of pages of White House papers on pardons that the former president approved, including clemency for fugitive commodities trader Marc Rich.

The archivists' decision, based on guidance provided by Bill Clinton that restricts the disclosure of advice he received from aides, prevents public scrutiny of documents that would shed light on how he decided which pardons to approve from among hundreds of requests.

Clinton's legal agent declined the option of reviewing and releasing the documents that were withheld, said the archivists, who work for the federal government, not the Clintons.

I wonder: Will those archivists now be accused of Ken Starr-like tactics by reviewing their orders? Perhaps they'll have to come up with a new one, since they've already used Karl Rove, Dubya, Reagan, Starr and "friend of Holocaust denier" labels on Obama.

Meanwhile, it bears repeating the continued unfolding of the NAFTA-Canada brouhaha, you know, the one where the Clintonistas accused an Obama adviser of secretly telling the Canadian government he didn't mean what he said about scrapping NAFTA when in fact it was Hillary's people who first told that about her stance to a Canadian official. Of course, Hillary keeps repeating the lie about Obama's part because she's not one to let a little thing like the truth get in the way of scoring political points. As reported by The Globe and Mail on Friday:

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised Thursday that an internal investigation would probe all facets of how information was leaked that may have influenced the U.S. Democratic presidential primaries, including the alleged comments by his own chief of staff, Ian Brodie, and the subsequent leak of a sensitive memorandum.


"New reports indicate very clearly that it was Ian Brodie, the chief of staff," New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton said yesterday in the Commons. "My question to the Prime Minister is very simple. Will he now apologize to this House, the American people and Senator Obama, and will he fire his chief of staff?"


The controversy began after Mr. Brodie allegedly told a group of journalists from CTV News that candidate Hillary Clinton was not serious about earlier suggestions that she would reopen NAFTA if she became president. The network later reported that it was Mr. Obama's campaign that had informed Canadian diplomats not to be overly concerned that he would fundamentally change the deal. The network also reported that Ms. Clinton's officials indirectly tried to deliver the same message, a report the campaign denied the next evening.

Of course, the biggest part of this so-called scandal may be the attempts of Stephen Harper's Conservative government to make mischief in the Democratic primaries to help the GOP hold the White House.

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Welcome to the big leagues, son!

By Carl

I love
this paragraph:

But after his defeats this week at the hands of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, there is frustration and anger among his supporters, advisers and contributors about the Clinton campaign’s attacks on him — and still-unresolved tension about how far he can go in striking back without sacrificing his claim to be practicing a new brand of politics.

Hmm. All these freshly washed faces attracted to the Obama campaign because, you know, he still has that "new pol" smell about him, which is all that distinguishes him from Clinton or McCain, for that matter.

Ethical questions, close ties to shabby lobbyists, the ability to bald-faced lie to voters while cutting back room deals with the people who his "policies" will a Clintonista, it's been fun watching Obama peeled back like an onion.

But you know what they say about onions: you keep peeling them and finally you're left with nothing. That, above all else, is probably why Obombers are so angry and frustrated right now with what are very mild hits by the Clinton campaign against their hero.

Samantha Power incident yesterday shows what a deep fracture there is between the Obama public face and what goes on behind the scenes.

“Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign."

That last bit is clearly a lie. She is senior enough in the campaign staff that those sentiments had been reinforced somewhere in the echo chamber that is all campaigns. You are insulated from reality and develop a deeply paranoid sense of both grandeur and suspicion.

That's just the nature of a campaign, like it or not. You're too focused on the work in front of you to take a breath and put things into perspective.

Which is why it's been delicious this week to watch Obombers sweat a little. The assumption that the nomination was there for the taking has been shattered like the illusion it was ever since there was no clear winner on Super Tuesday, and Hillary Clinton has exposed a deep flaw in the nominating process: once you take it off the table and put it into subjective territory, the case for either candidate can be made.

We Clintonistas knew that, which is why when the Obombers were gloating, we merely smiled, and egged them on. Neither Obama nor Clinton will win this on the hustings. It will be up to the superdelegates, and the Clintons have far more to deal to them, because, you see...well, it's like legislation: you don't want to see what goes in it to get it passed.

The end game is starting to take shape here: Obama will end up with about a 100 delegate lead in elected delegates. He might end up with the popular vote (depending on Florida and Michigan, both heavily Clintonian strongholds), but Clinton can point out that more Democrats voted for her, even disallowing Florida and Michigan, therefore she deserves to represent the majority of Democrats.

That, I think, is a very strong argument, and she can back that up by pointing out that in primaries alone, you know, where the people vote, people who vote and then go to their jobs and not the idle rich who can put in two or three hours standing around a school cafeteria, she not only clobbered Obama in the popular vote, but in the delegate count as well.

In other words, we've got a brokered ticket. And then the fun begins at the convention or before.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Top Ten Cloves: If Hillary Clinton is a monster, the movies that would be made about her

News Item: 'Hillary Clinton's a monster': Obama aide blurts out attack in Scotsman interview

By J. Thomas Duffy

10. I Was a Teenage Hillary Clinton
9. Friday the Hillary Clinton
8. Frankenhillary
7. Hillary Clinton of the Corn
6. Village of the Hillary Clinton
5. HillaryClintonknockers
4. Rosemary's Hillary Clinton
3. Texas Chainsaw Hillary Clinton
2. Night of the Living Hillary Clinton
1. The Hillary Clinton That Ate Tokyo


Bonus Five More Monster Hillary Movies

5. Bride of Frankenhillary
4. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenhillary
3. The Amityville Hillary
2. 13 Hillary Clintons
1. The Hillary Clinton of the Opera

(h/t to Monster Movies)


Bonus Brouhaha Riffs

The Swamp: Obama adviser regrets calling Clinton a 'monster'

TPM Election Central: Power Resigns Over Hillary-Is-Monster Comment

David Corn: In "Monster"-Gate, Clintonites Get Away with a Slur, While Respected Obama Aide Falls

Vote For Hillary!

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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Monster bails

By Creature

It's a shame Samantha Power, the Obama foreign policy advisor who called Hillary a "monster" and more, was forced to resign today. Yes, the statement was out of bounds, but Powers was one of the reasons to like Obama and the team of advisors he had assembled. In a saner day Power's sincere apology would have been enough. Hillary's team could have taken the high-road and accepted the apology, but they did not. If there's one thing you can count on, when faced with a high-road, the Clinton team will always take the off-ramp to the low one.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Sageman on Leaderless Jihad -- 2 & 3

By Carol Gee

FISA Fights -- Given that U.S. Senators and House members are still in disagreement over how to refine the law on conducting foreign surveillance of "terrorist threats," I wanted return to my series on global jihad. After a brief time-out for the Texas party primaries, I am continuing the process of analyzing the true nature of the threat. To do this I have turned to a new "guru" whose work seems believable and significant to me:

A Discussion with Marc Sageman on Leaderless Jihad, was a program held at the New America Foundation on Feb. 20, 2008. {This link can provide full video or audio of the event. Here is the link to Sageman's 32 page power-point presentation; it includes his main lecture ideas.} To quote the synopsis:

Jihad and 21st Century Terrorism,

In the post-September 11 world, Al Qaeda is no longer the central organizing force that aids or authorizes terrorist attacks or recruits terrorists. Rather, it serves as an inspiration for individuals and other groups who have branded themselves with the Al Qaeda name.

Today's post consists of the second and third parts of a series laying out the most important new ideas and ways of thinking I learned from Marc Sageman -- (see "32 page power-point," pdf link above).

Section 2: "The process became radicalization, mobilization and evolution of the threat over time." -- (pp. 16-22 pdf)

Dr. Sageman explored the dynamics of radicalization, of how people eventually get on the path to political violence. He maintains that these are young men chasing thrills, fantasies of glory and the sense of belonging to an important group and cause. It is a bottom-up process involving four major factors: 1) There is a sense of moral outrage. 2) There is a specific interpretation of the meaning of the precipitating event or events. 3) It resonates with their own personal experience. 4) The mobilization takes place through networks.

Further elaboration of 1) "moral outrage" -- This is anger about a major moral violation; it is not humiliation. It became global after the invasion of Iraq, when before it was confined to the local, involving local police activity. The invasion of Iraq began the activation of Muslim identity, and the local and global reinforce each other.

2) What is the interpretation? It is "war against Islam." It becomes anti-Americanism and anti-semitism. This does not come from the intellectuals or Islamic scholars; it involves the "sound bite" Islam. The radicals did not get into theological debates. There is a consistency with imbedded cultural beliefs that differ between the U.S. and old Europe. Europe projects various national "essences," French-ness, Italianate, etc., and Muslims feel left out. On the other hand, the U.S. myth is of a "melting pot." The American dream is of equal opportunity, and most Muslims believe this is true (Pew research cited by Sageman). Europe has practiced more economic exclusion of Muslim minorities. In addition there are religious differences within Islam. Moderates are more tolerant of religious fundamentalism; the radicals were dominated by Saudis' Salafi fundamentalism.

3) Dr. Sageman discussed a resonance with personal experiences among the radicalized men. Their own personal grievances were "root causes." There has also been a historical legacy with which they are familiar. Muslims in Europe are now in a third generation of unskilled laborers, re-builders of Europe. American Muslims are dominated by middle class professionals. The current average income for a family here is $70,000 annually. Muslims generally are employed in the U.S. opposite to the very high unemployment rate for Muslims in foreign nations. Political contributions include the more generous welfare policies in other developed countries, contributing to idleness and boredom, according to Sageman. There has been a failure of governments' repressive top-down polities, and a resultant Xenophobic backlash. Dr. Sageman reported that most European terrorist plots "were funded with welfare checks." And he cautioned against underestimating the power of high levels of boredom, contributing to the irresistability of violence. Closing with contrasting data about arrest rates in the U.S. vs Europe, Sageman was able to find 60 arrest records for terrorism related charges in the U.S., "mostly through entrapment through the Bureau," Sagemen said. In contrast there were 2,400 arrests in Europe, "with no entrapment." That is six times the arrest rate.

4) Joining jihad, forming networks of trust -- Two-thirds of the men linking into the terrorist networks were expatriates. And Dr. Sageman found that over 90% had some association with the phenomena of the diaspora -- 80% were 2nd and 3rd generation and young expatriates. There was a pre-existing friendship for 70% of the men joining; 20% involved kinship. Sageman characterized the groups as "spontaneous, sel-organized bunches of guys (networks of trust) from the bottom up. It was self-selection and mutual self-recruitment.

Section 3 -- (pp. 23-30 pdf). "The Expatriate vs. Homegrown Trajectories and Mobilization Through Networks of People with Pre-existing Social Bonds or Operational Links." Further elaboration of Sageman's research on 4) above.

The mobilization takes place through networks: The First Wave, the original group, consisted of Osama bin Laden and Dr. al Zawahiri -- the "African Arabs" in Afghanistan and the border area of Pakistan. They were followed by the "Second Wave" of jihadis who took two very different paths into subsequent terror networks. The trajectories are described by Sageman as "Expatriates" and "Homegrown."

The Expatriate Trajectory: The network that eventually culminated in the attacks of 9/11/01 in the U.S. began the 1990's. They were mostly from the Middle East, upwardly and geographically mobile, the "best and brightest." They were raised in religious, caring and middle class families. "Global citizens," they spoke 3 or 4 languages and were skilled in IT. They were sent to the universities of the West, thus separated from their own cultures, leading to being lonely and homesick. Marginalized and excluded from the society of the West, though they adopted the Western lifestyle, they were without relief. So they sought friends, drifting to the mosques for companions, not religion. Eventually they moved in together, ate the same foods, and formed cliques.

The Homegrown Trajectory: In contrast the "homegrown" jihadis were 2nd or 3rd generation men raised and radicalized in Western host countries, but retaining their foreign ideology. They were secular and upwardly mobile, but experienced discrimination and exclusion from the societies in which they were raised. Dropping out of school, they turned to petty crime and drugs, forming gangs. Their collective identity was reactive and resentful. They eventually drifted into religion to escape that situation, according to Dr. Sageman's research findings.

Mobilization through Networks: (See pdf slides 25 through 30 for Sageman's fascinating pictorial representations of the global networks as they have evolved over time). The first of the Second Wave networks were face to face and included homegrown neighborhood gangs, both expatriate and homegrown student activities, and 12 radical study groups -- about half the sample. Then a gradual shift to online networks occurred, with no space or time limits. This has transformed the participation into an egalitarian threat that includes teenagers and women. Chat-rooms became important virtual "invisible hand" networks.

The group dynamics were increased commitment via interactivity: The groups acted as "echo chambers" encouraging mutual escalation. It was about "cause" and "comrades." They gradually slid into a violence dynamic of in-group love and out-group hate. Some of them later went to Iraq and blew themselves up. Dr. Sageman discussed the example of the Madrid group. Five of the 7 went to Madrid to be drug dealers who eventually were radicalized. They were secular at the time of the bombing. One felt John Travolta was his hero.

To be continued -- "The Evolution of Global Islamist Terror"

More on the Sageman story:
  1. *Washington Monthly's Political Animal, Kevin Drum recently posted about Leaderless Jihad (2/28/08).
  2. The Economist wrote an excellent review on 1/31/08, "Al-Qaeda/ how jihad went freelance," HT to PennPressLog.
  3. Leaderless Jihad is an link that contains a full book description and several good reviews.
  4. Marc Sageman "Understanding Terror Networks" the book, from Google.
  5. Book TV on C-SPAN2 showed Sageman's presentation.
  6. Dr. Marc Sageman -- Speaker's Bio from the University of Pennsylvania.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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Why I love Larry David

By Edward Copeland

Larry David, the comic genius behind Seinfeld and the even-better Curb Your Enthusiasm, has been a longtime Obama supporter and he has penned a hilarious piece for The Huffington Post in response to Hillary's red phone ad. A great highlight of his post:

A few weeks ago, I started to feel sorry for her. Oh Christ, let her win already...Who cares...It's not worth it. There's not that much difference between them. She can have it. Anything to avoid watching her descend into madness. So I switched. I started rooting for her. It wasn't that hard. Compromise comes easy to me. I was on board.

And then I saw the ad.

I watched, transfixed, as she took the 3 a.m. call... and I was afraid... very afraid. Suddenly, I realized the last thing this country needs is that woman anywhere near a phone. I don't care if it's 3 a.m. or 10 p.m. or any other time. I don't want her talking to Putin, I don't want her talking to Kim Jong Il, I don't want her talking to my nephew. She needs a long rest. She needs to put on a sarong and some sun block and get away from things for a while, a nice beach somewhere -- somewhere far away, where there are... no phones.

God bless Larry David.

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Hillary the Republican praises McCain and slams Obama

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I'm with Creature. Hillary Clinton is making it increasingly difficult for me not to hate her. Is "hate" too strong a word? Perhaps, but, at this late hour, it seems like the most appropriate one.

It didn't start out that way. I didn't endorse Obama because I hated Clinton, or even disliked her, but because I liked Obama more -- and I have come to like him more and more, as you know if you've been reading this blog recently. But now? After the smear campaign she's been running against him, the scorched-earth campaign to destroy him, her desperate willingness to do anything to win the nomination? Well, it's hard to like her anymore.

And it's only getting worse.

It began well before the Tuesday primaries, but Clinton's main line of attack is to claim that Obama lacks the experience necessary for the job of being president. Which is bad enough. What makes it worse is that her attack on Obama includes praise, in comparative terms, for McCain. Obama has no experience, her attack goes, but she does, and since McCain also has experience, she is the better candidate to go up against him in the general election. How is this an attack? What she's really saying is not just that she has the experience to match up with McCain but that Obama lacks that experience and would therefore lose.

It is all quite infuriating, and she was at it again yesterday, claiming that both she and McCain have "crossed that threshold" that qualifies them to be president -- on national security, that is. Needless to say, she doesn't think Obama has crossed it, or even come close. For more, see Greg Sargent at TPM. And see also AMERICAblog's Joe Sudbay:

When exactly did Hillary Clinton demonstrate that she was able to "cross the commander-in-chief threshold"? When she supported Bush by voting for the Iraq War? When she supported Bush (and Lieberman) on the Iran resolution last September (basically a carbon copy of the Iraq war resolution)? When she went to Kosovo with Sinbad and Sheryl Crow? When she was First Lady of Arkansas? When she was planning the White House Christmas Party?

This is getting ridiculous. It's one thing for Clinton to build herself up. But constantly comparing herself to McCain, constantly praising McCain over the man who may be our candidate in the fall, is beyond annoying. Is that supposed to make her appear stronger? If she wants that comparison, we'll make it. On the most important foreign policy decision of this decade, on the biggest foreign policy disaster in recent American history, Hillary Clinton and John McCain made the wrong call -- both sided with George Bush and voted for the Iraq war. If this is the judgment they would bring to the threshold of the Oval Office, if these are the decisions Hillary and McCain are going to be making when the phone rings at 3AM, who needs either one of them?

It is indeed getting ridiculous, and I for one don't need either one of them, but it is what the Clinton campaign is all about now: smearing and belittling Obama. And if that means waging a scorched-earth campaign, pumping up McCain, and, should Obama be the nominee, handing the Republicans a ton of ammunition, so be it. The Clinton campaign is all about Clinton, not about the Democratic Party, not about unity and civility, not about showing respect for Obama, or for the states that voted for him, or for her supporters in the states that voted for him, and certainly not about being fair. And apparently she thinks she can only win the race by siding with McCain against Obama.

But is it wrong for the Clinton campaign to be all about Clinton? Is it wrong to campaign negatively, to play dirty, to attack and smear, to do whatever it takes to win? Maybe not, if all that is important is the victory of a single candidate, Clinton's victory no matter the cost, no matter the consequences. But what is also important is the victory of the Democratic Party in November -- winning the White House and increasing its majorities in Congress. With Clinton playing up McCain, and playing into Republican hands, on top of everything else she has done to try to bring down Obama, it is time, I think, for Democrats to say that enough is finally enough, demand an end to Clinton's desperate and destructive campaign, and line up confidently and enthusiastically, as a strong, united party, behind Obama, a genuine leader and one of the great political figures of our time.

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Mapping the 2008 election

By Michael J.W. Stickings

It's a bit too early to rely on polls to predict how the 2008 election will play out -- that is, in terms of Obama or Clinton vs. McCain, although Obama polls better against McCain than Clinton does -- but SurveyUSA has both Obama and Clinton beating McCain in November. In terms of electoral votes:

  • Obama 280, McCain 258
  • Clinton 276, McCain 262
Click on the links above for the state-by-state details. And here's Kos:

It's amazing how many non-swing states will suddenly be, well, swing states this year, like Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Some of these states become competitive depending on the candidate, like Arkansas and Tennessee for Clinton, and just about everything west of the Mississippi for Obama.


In all, Obama outperforms Clinton in 33 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Clinton outperforms Obama in 15 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

They are even in: Kansas and Ohio.

Again, it's a bit early for this. So much could change once the Democratic race is over and through the course of a long general election campaign. For example, SurveyUSA has Obama losing Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as Florida, but it seems to me that he would win the first two and possibly the third. Similarly, it has Clinton losing Michigan, Washington, and Oregon, all three of which she could win.

I do think Obama would be the more formidable opponent for McCain, but what this early poll tells me is that the Democrats, as divided as they may currently be, or may currently seem to be, are in good shape looking ahead to November, with both Obama and Clinton beating McCain and many red states genuinely in play for them, including Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and even Texas.

In good shape, yes, but it still looks like it could be awfully close. McCain should prove to be a formidable opponent for Obama or Clinton, and, of course, we haven't seen the worst from the Republican Smear Machine yet. If anything, this poll should serve to remind us not to take anything for granted.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Quick Pick Flick: Hillary's the New Lieberman Edition

By Creature

After today it is clear, if Hillary can't win (steal?) the nomination she would prefer John McCain over Barack Obama for Bush's oval office seat. Hillary could not give a crap about the Democratic party, or the American people, for that matter. Kieth Olbermann and Richard Wolffe discuss today's campaign absurdity.

I don't want to hate Hillary Clinton, but she is making it very hard for me not to. John Cole has more.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Money, money, money (and Obama's incredible contribution to American democracy)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Like it or not, it's what drives American politics.

You want the completely public financing of campaigns, or a strict (and low) limit on campaign spending? -- fine. But that's just not the way it is right now.

And right now, money matters. A lot. And in a country of 300 million-plus, with campaigns that go on and on, with both primary and general elections on which to spend, it makes sense that money matters. After all, it costs a lot to get the message out to so many prospective voters. Campaign finance reform may be desirable goal -- and I'm all for it, if done properly -- but there may be no way around the centrality of money to the American political process.

And so it is rather impressive -- is it not? -- that Obama raised $55 million last month, a new record. Clinton did well, too, taking in $35 million (and she was done extremely well since Tuesday's primaries), but Obama at this point is far more than a candidate. He is the leader of a movement that is mobilizing Americans seemingly like never before. Consider these numbers (via Ben Smith of The Politico, linked above):

* Contributors: 727,972
* First Time Contributors: 385,101
* Total Contributors — Campaign to Date: 1,069,333

Online Fundraising:

* More than $45 million raised online in February
* More than 90% of online donations were $100 or less
* More than 50% of online donations were $25 or less
* More than 75% of online donors in February were first-time online donors
* More than a third of those new online donors in February went on to engage in volunteer activity on (planning their own offline events, making phone calls from home, joining local grassroots volunteer groups)

The number of contributors, including first-time contributors, is impressive enough. But consider that last number. The donors to Obama's campaign aren't just giving money, voting, and walking away. They're choosing to be active participants in Obama's campaign and in the movement of which he is the leader. For them, democracy isn't just about voting, it's about getting involved in a meaningful way in the political process, about giving of themselves and their time, about making a commitment and sticking to it.

Is that not a large part of what Obama is all about as a presidential candidate? He is genuinely inspirational, but it isn't all hollow rhetoric, as his opponents, McCain and Clinton alike, have suggested. Apart from the substance -- and there is a lot there, listen to his speeches or read up on his policy positions -- there is the mobilization all across America of thousands and thousands of donors and thousands and thousands of volunteers. Rising up to strengthen America's democracy, they have been inspired by Obama, by his campaign, by what he stands for, and yes, by his brilliant speeches, by his call for change, by his leadership.

There's nothing hollow about that.

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Hillary, your dynasty's showing

By Creature

Until Hillary Clinton shows America her tax returns, I can only assume she and Bill are so knee-deep in dirty Saudi money that her returns would make Poppy Bush blush.

It's your call, Hillary. Show us your income and prove you won't be implementing your very serious foreign policy goals with one hand tied behind your back.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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The persistence of stupidity

By Capt. Fogg

Hi kids! I'm Stanley, the Stagflation Stag. Remember, only you can prevent Republican economic incompetence!

Two percent of all mortgages are currently in foreclosure. The number of mortgage borrowers who were over 30 days late on a payment in the last three months of 2007 is at its highest rate since the Reagan Renaissance. The trend is accelerating. Oil is $104 / barrel, the exchange rate for the dollar against the Euro is about $1.53, and the DJIA is flirting with 12000 today.

On the other hand, Bush is optimistic, the candidate the Republicans have chosen to replace him wants to increase spending, sustain military involvement and tax cutting, Financiers want to start packaging and selling car loans the way they did mortgages and Americans are calling anyone who objects stupid. We know we're "winning" the war though because the body count in Vietnam Iraq is better.

Yes, flag pins and religious pledges, the same old rhetoric about only dealing with the "enemy" from a position of strength, the same old crap about being there in the name of freedom the same old unaccountability, the same old damn-the-law executive branch, the same old idiots blaming it all on the liberals, the same old stupid, ignorant, irrational "conservatives."

Of course we won't know for a while yet. The media are too busy trying to lie with the appearance of "balance" to know how many people are stupid enough to put another Republican in office because Clinton wears pants or Obama doesn't wear a flag pin, but I'm not optimistic.

The sun is shining on this Florida morning, but these are dark days.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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"Wanna see my picture on the cover..."

By J. Kingston Pierce

With Senator Hillary Clinton’s race-altering presidential primary wins in Ohio and Texas on Tuesday, there are more than a few bloggers
suggesting that she drop out of the race “for the good of the Democratic Party.” And there are even some of her own campaign advisors wondering whether she should go on in her pursuit of the Democratic nomination against the more charismatic Senator Barack Obama. Others, though, insist that it’s still too early to call for Clinton’s withdrawal or to compromise by pushing a unified Obama-Clinton (or Clinton-Obama) election ticket.

Meanwhile, Walter Shapiro, Salon’s Washington bureau chief, suggests that the continuing rivalry will be good, in the end, for Democrats--and immensely frustrating to John “100 Years War” McCain, George W. Bush’s now anointed clone and the Republican’t Party’s own Hubert Humphrey (“Captive to his own partisan support for a disastrous war; too timid to stake out an agenda for change; passively permitting an unpopular president to embrace him as heir; squandering what little was left of his good repute in shabby political maneuvering.”). Shapiro writes:

John McCain announced Tuesday that he would be heading for Florida on Thursday to campaign in West Palm Beach. But the problem McCain faces is that he still has a faceless opponent with the Democratic race far from settled. So, in effect, McCain will be shadowboxing against a vague entity called Obama-Clinton. The result is that (just wait and see) McCain will find it difficult to make news since there is no longer any drama to anything that he does until it becomes time to pick a running mate. The Project for Excellence in Journalism, which monitors media coverage, found that last week the Democratic race generated four times the attention of the Republicans. And that news blackout occurred when McCain still had a nominal opponent in Mike Huckabee.

So rather than fantasizing about a soporific and conflict-free nomination fight, the Democrats should recognize the value of what they have stumbled into. The contest between Obama and Clinton--this battle of historic firsts--has the entire nation hanging on the edge of their seats. Who with any sense of show business would think of pulling down the curtain when the audience is shouting for more? But, then, if the Democrats had any sense of what the public craved, George W. Bush probably would not be in the White House.

Like many people, though, the editors of
Rolling Stone magazine hesitate to let this contest play out, to wait and see if Hillary Clinton can sell her (admittedly dubious) argument to American voters that only she can beat the aged McCain in November--and in the meantime allow her to bloody Obama even before the Republican’t hate machine gets him between its teeth. For the first time ever, the music-and-issues magazine is endorsing a contender for the White House during the primary season: Barack Obama. In its March 20 issue, editor, publisher, and Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner opines:

Obama has emerged by displaying precisely the kind of character and judgment we need in a president: renouncing the politics of fear, speaking frankly on the most pressing issues facing the country and sticking to his principles. He recognizes that running for president is an opportunity to inspire an entire nation.

All this was made clearer by the contrast with Hillary Clinton, a capable and personable senator who has run the kind of campaign that reminds us of what makes us so discouraged about our politics. ...

Obama also denounced the Republican campaign of fear. Early in the campaign, John Edwards took the lead, calling the War on Terror a campaign slogan, not a policy. Obama rejected the subtle imagery of false patriotism by not wearing a flag pin in his lapel, and he dismissed the broader notion that the Democratic Party had to find a way to buy into this entire load of fear-mongering War on Terror bullshit--to out-Republican the Republicans--and thus become, in his description of Hillary Clinton’s macho posturing on foreign policy, little more than “Bush-Cheney lite.” ...

We have a deeply divided nation, driven apart by economic policies that have deliberately created the largest income disparities in our history, with stunning tax breaks for the wealthiest and subsidies for giant industries. The income of the average citizen is stagnant, and his quality of life continues to slowly erode from inflation.

We are embittered and hobbled by the unnecessary and failed war in Iraq. We have been worn down by long years of fear- and hate-filled political strategies, assaults on constitutional freedoms, and levels of greed and cynicism, that--once seen for what they are--no people of moral values or ethics can tolerate.

A new president must heal these divides, must at long last face the hypocrisy and inequity of unprecedented government handouts to oil giants, hedge-fund barons, agriculture combines and drug companies. At the same time, the new president must transform our lethal energy economy--replacing oil and coal and the ethanol fraud with green alternatives and strict rain-forest preservation and tough international standards--before the planet becomes inhospitable for most human life. Although Obama has been slow to address global warming, I feel confident that his intelligence and morality will lead him clearly on this issue.

We need to recover the spiritual and moral direction that should describe our country and ourselves. We see this in Obama, and we see the promise he represents to bring factions together, to achieve again the unity that drives great change and faces difficult, and inconvenient, truths and peril.

We need to send a message to ourselves and to the world that we truly do stand for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And in electing an African-American, we also profoundly renounce an ugliness and violence in our national character that have been further stoked by our president in these last eight years.

Rolling Stone
’s full editorial has been made available on the Web, here. Elsewhere in the same issue can be found Tim Dickinson’s profile of Obama’s grassroots field operation.

We’ll see how beneficial this endorsement really is. Rolling Stone did Bill Clinton considerable good, putting him on its cover back in 1992. But similar efforts in 2000 (for Al Gore) and 2004 (for John Kerry) proved... well, less than decisive.

(Cross-posted at Limbo.)

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Seven weeks

By Carl

That's an eternity in a political calendar, particularly in the modern political calendar where stories no longer have "second day" details, but have follow ups in the second hour. I imagine we'll be seeing a lot of stories like these:

'NAFTAgate' began with remark from Harper's chief of staff

ONLY GORE CAN STOP A MELTDOWN (relax... it's the Rupert Murdoch-owned NY Post... it can't be true!)

They must go for Hillary Clinton

Obama and Clinton Supporters Must Drop Out of the Race (a not-particularly comic take on the candidates themselves dropping out...I'd like to think I was some influence on this, but damn! I'd hate to bear any responsibility for "teh UNfunny"!)

The Sanjaya Effect? (And a Few Other Stray March 4 Thoughts) (skip the article -- it's NRO's The Corner)

HILLARY, 'MOST SECRETIVE POLITICIAN IN AMERICA'? (Surprisingly, not a Murdoch-onwed outlet, it's MSNBC (= Misogynists Slap Nice Blonde Candidate?))

...and so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, add Pepto Bismol and lie down...

You get the sense that a bunch of bloggers and writers, looking down at a blank screen after imbibing way too much Tuesday night and needing something to post because they're bumping up against their expense account limits, decided to, you know, get stupid.

Stupider, I should say. This goes beyond "hangover stupid" straight to "hair of the dog, and another, and another" stupid reporting and analysis. This goes straight to "Ohmygod, I slept with THAT?!" stupid. This goes straight to "Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11 and is trying to get uranium" stupid reporting.

It's hard to coax breathless prose to signify THE! MOST! IMPORTANT! STORY! EVER! when in fact nothing is happening and nothing is going to happen at least until Saturday. April 5, I mean.

Guys, give your livers, your brains and your readers a break! It's nearly Spring. Take a walk, stop imagining that you're still in Manchester, NH, and enjoy yourselves. We'll have plenty to occupy ourselves!

American Idol is in full swing! We're about due for a Britney sighting any day now! Baseball is about to get underway! Some celebrity somewhere is about to give birth to a baby! A bear's about to shit in the woods!

On the other hand, maybe you could, you know, write about something that matters?

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Who is better equipped to beat McCain?

By Edward Copeland

Of course, polls this early don't mean a lot, but the difference between Obama's victory over McCain vs. Hillary was striking even to me.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) leads McCain, who captured the delegates needed to claim the Republican nomination Tuesday night, by 12 percentage points among all adults in the poll; Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) holds a six-point lead over the GOP nominee. Both Democrats are buoyed by moderates and independents when going head to head with McCain and benefit from sustained negative public assessments of President Bush and the war in Iraq.

About two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job and think the war was not worth fighting, and most hold those positions "strongly." A slim majority also doubt that the United States is making progress toward restoring civil order in Iraq, even as McCain and others extol recent successes there.

These views are closely related to voters' choices: McCain does poorly against Clinton and Obama among those who disapprove of the president and those opposing the war.

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The real lesson from Sort of Super Tuesday

By Creature

Brow-beating, finger-wagging, and fearmongering work, so long as Bill Clinton is not the one doing it.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Leadership lives at a little Texas caucus

By Carol Gee

Our Texas "Two-Step" Democratic primary was held all day Tuesday, March 4, in the church activities room of a typical little old white Southern Baptist church. This polling place has long served two precincts at the far edge of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Nestled in a 1950's neighborhood, sociologists would define it as "in transition." The church building evidently grew as its members could afford to buy an old house, convert it for worship, and finally add a new sanctuary years later. They are happy to share it with their community.

As is the practice, this polling place was used by both Democrats and Republicans -- Dems on one side of the room, Repubs on the other. The mood of the workers was cordial, attentive to proprieties and helpful. There was nothing at all out of line as far as I could tell, as a former poll worker. Voters shared the small number of curtain-less "booths," but used separate paper ballots (bubbled-in), that we then optically scanned into the counting machine: two more for Obama.

At around 7:00 PM, our two "precinct conventions" (Texas "caucuses" to most readers) were gathering where we had voted earlier in the day. There were probably about 200 of us standing in the dimly lit and chilly parking lot and spilling over onto front lawn of the church. Men and women, old and very young, Black and Hispanic and Anglo -- people were visibly excited to be there, though a bit cold and fairly confused about what to do next.

We were among the lucky precincts, however. A middle-aged man, who had somehow gotten the necessary manila envelope of instructions and forms, volunteered to get us started. He had been through it before, he said. The man got up into the bed of a pickup and called for nominations for leader and secretary of what I now call the "evening festivities." A man behind me was nominated, a woman volunteered to record, the nominee agreed to serve and they were elected by unanimous and enthusiastic voice vote. We then became stalwarts in waiting mode until the last people in line had voted so the polls could close and the primary vote count (what will amount to 65% of the final total) could start.

Neither my "roommate" nor I had dressed for an outside winter evening with bright "Orion" visible overhead. So we made a quick trip home for ear-muffs, heavy coats and a flashlight. Upon our return people were sorting themselves into two precinct groups by asking those nearby the precinct number in which they voted. Because we have done this for over fifty years now, we were able to explain the caucus procedure to those nearby who asked us.

Our two lines stretched to the dark at the street. Voters moved gingerly across the poorly illuminated lawn, avoided the bushes, and moved up the steps to the tiny front porch of the church sanctuary. At the legally correct time, our voter lines began to register as caucus attendees. We moved slowly, getting to know each other. We visited with a young school teacher,so very excited to be involved. She holds a 5th grade "leadership class" in an elementary school in a nearby town. She and her husband, a Republican who was elsewhere, kept in touch on her colorful cell phone.

Under two little porch lights those of us ending the line wrote our names, addresses and for whom we had voted. We borrowed pens and used whatever we could find that was firm enough to support the forms. Blessedly, we were welcomed into the warm church, 72 people "for Clinton" on the right side of the aisle, and 97 of us "for Obama" on the left. I must note that no African-Americans sat across the way. We sat behind a couple who appeared to be professionals who had brought their voting age son to participate.

Filling the leadership roles for the separate Obama and Clinton contingents became the next tasks. A confident and willing African-American woman, whose husband happened to be white, volunteered to chair our very multi-ethnic group. Everybody easily agreed to that. The Clinton people chose their leader in the same volunteering style. Our Chair immediately got to her job. She asked people who would like to attend to stand; those standing along the wall, including our young teacher friend, raised a hand. Amazingly there were the necessary number to send 10 delegates to attend the March 22 County Democratic Convention. The chair gathered her 10 alternates. The Clinton group elected 7 and 7. And we were through and on our way home in a reasonable length of time.

As one trained in the social sciences, I was very struck by how group leadership emerged out of nowhere when they were needed. I was also impressed by how excited the newcomers seemed to be as they joined in something they saw as historic and unprecedented. Texas mirrors the nation in that. I send heartfelt "Congratulations" to Senator Clinton for her Texas primary win and the same to Senator Obama for getting a majority of the caucus delegates.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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It ain't over...

By Carl

...'til the
pant-suited lady sings... which would be pretty scary, I think!

“No candidate in recent history — Democratic or Republican — has won the White House without winning the Ohio primary,” Mrs. Clinton, of New York, said at a rally in Columbus, Ohio. “We all know that if we want a Democratic president, we need a Democratic nominee who can win Democratic states just like Ohio.”

It doesn't sound like she's even warming up her voice yet.

Interesting possibilities arise out of last night's V,O,T,R primary: Vermont, Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island.

For one thing, Hillary swept all of Ohio except for the isolated counties containing large urban areas like Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Cleveland. A startling observation for Obama is that he didn't carry the surrounding suburbs of those cities. That would concern me because he's never had that problem in other big-ticket states. Indeed, in Texas, he carried the suburbs of Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Curiously, he didn't carry San Antonio. We might chalk that up to that city being more conservative than the other three.

Clinton's electoral map is starting to show great strength in the Southwest and Northeast. This is comforting news for her should she continue on to the convention and be within striking distance of Obama at that point: she can make a very strong case that she will win in states that Democrats must win in order to win the elecdtion, where Obama's strengths are in states that normally won't vote Democratic if you held a gun to the voters' heads.

Should a brokered ticket be necessary, meaning Obama and Clinton agree to both appear on the ticket, this might be enough for her to win the top spot.

While Pennsylvania is the next truly key battleground state, should Clinton prevail there, which seems likely now given that nearly all the counties surrounding it have gone into the Clinton column, the next race of interest after that would be Oregon on May 20, which could prove to be the stopper for either Obama or Clinton.

North Carolina on the 6th of May should be an easy Obama victory, but look for Bill Clinton to pull the same moral victory there that he did in Alabama: Obama won that state by 14% points in the popular vote, but the Big Dog's campaigning made the delegate race a 27-25 split.

Apart from Mississippi and Wyoming, there are no more primaries this month. Obama should do well in both of those states, but keep an eye on Wyoming in terms of the Afghanistan oversight issue.

One side note to the Obombers who believe Hillary's done for: we all castigated Al Gore for giving up too easily. Maybe you guys should cut her some slack. She has a point about her candidacy being viable, still.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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A battle of home appliances

By Creature

One of the media narratives coming out of Clinton's wins last night was that somehow Obama wasn't "fighting" Hillary hard enough. That maybe he had pivoted too fast to McCain. Well, kids, get ready for dueling kitchen sinks.

A senior Obama adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obama's team will respond to Tuesday's results by going negative on Clinton — raising questions about her tax records and the source of donations to the Clinton presidential library, among skeletons in the Clintons' past.

This will not be pretty, but I guess staying above the fray only works for so long.

Update: Steve Benen lists the items thrown as part of Hillary's kitchen sink:

* Rezko
* Canada/NAFTA
* Accusations of “plagiarism”
* Obama’s crisis-management abilities at 3 a.m.
* The media has given Obama a break
* Obama’s healthcare mailings are “Karl Rove-style politics” (”Shame on you”)
* Obama’s experience is similar to George W. Bush
* McCain’s experience is preferable to Obama’s
* Pictures of Obama wearing African garb
* Obama didn’t hold holding hearings as chairman of a Senate subcommittee that is in charge of overseeing NATO troops in Afghanistan
* Obama “denounced” Farrakhan, but didn’t “reject” him
* Obama’s message of “hope” is worthy of mockery and derision
* “60 Minutes” — Obama’s not a Muslim “as far as I know”


Benen concludes: "Obama had narrowed the gap, and Clinton had seen her double-digit leads disappear. Then she launched the no-holds-barred attacks, and for the first time in the entire campaign, Obama’s numbers slipped. It’s hard to call this a coincidence."

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Live-blogging Super Tuesday II

By Michael J.W. Stickings


(And check out Creature's live-blogging over at State of the Day.)


7:47 pm -- It isn't really a Super Tuesday, is it? There are just four elections today -- two in big states, two in small states. But what else can we call it? Hillary's Last Stand? (For more live-blogging, check out Sullivan.)

7:50 pm -- Let's get the Republican side over with as quickly as possible. McCain has won Ohio and Vermont -- easily. Maybe CNN can post more McCain recipes on its website. That's what seems to be passing for serious reporting of the GOP nominee these days. (The mainstream news media aren't liberal, they're Republican mouthpieces.)

7:55 pm -- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: "Forget tonight. She could win 16 straight and still lose."

7:57 pm -- In Ohio, Republicans are "crossing over in large numbers" to vote in the Democratic primary. Presumably this will help Obama, but many may be crossing over to vote for Clinton over the NAFTA flap, or because the Rush Limbaughs of the world have encouraged Republicans to vote for Clinton in order to keep the Democrats divided.

8:01 pm -- As expected, Obama has won Vermont.

8:02 pm -- Ambinder has the early exit poll spins from the two campaigns. Clinton may be ahead in both Ohio and Texas.

8:18 pm -- Hillary Clinton and fake news. The bad kind, not the Jon Steward kind. Newsday's Spin Cycle has the story. Lovely. What a shameful campaign she has run.

8:24 pm -- Ohio is too close to call, according to NBC. Again, let's put this in perspective: Not so long ago, Obama was way behind Clinton there, as far back as about 20 points according to some polls. Even if he loses tonight -- and it does look like Clinton will win by a narrow margin -- his incredible accomplishment of basically pulling even should not be overlooked. (It will, though. The media have no such perspective. It's all about the here and now and whatever narrative they want to slam over our heads.)

8:29 pm -- Ohio is reporting ballot shortages in 15 precincts, according to MSNBC. Wow. Turnout is obviously high, but could Ohio please get through an election problem-free?

8:34 pm -- Chait: "This CNN exit poll, combined with some seventh-grade algebra, would suggest that Hillary Clinton won Ohio 51-48. Of course, that's close enough that the result could easily be off." Yes, we'll see. Sounds about right, though.

9:28 pm -- Sorry, just away from the computer for a bit... So McCain's victories tonight have put him over the top. Anti-climactic, but there you go. And Huckabee's speaking right now... He's out, done, finished. And he's crazy, too, but give him some credit for staying in the race this long. But he's going on and on and on, as Creature also points out. I just don't care enough to pay attention. Oh! It's over!

9:34 pm -- CNN calls Rhode Island for Clinton. No surprise there, but, again, at least Obama made it close. Once upon a time, she was way up there, too. The Clinton spin, along with the media narrative, will focus on Clinton's victories tonight. The real story, however, is that Obama narrowed the gap significantly in Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island. Before Obama's February sweeps, the expectation was pretty much that the race would have been over by now, that Clinton would win these states easily, well on her way to the nomination. Instead, these narrow victories are being spun as triumphs. What a pathetic campaign she's run -- and is still running.

10:02 pm -- Wow, what a mesmerizing speech by McCain. Magnificent, truly magnificent.

10:03 pm -- No, not really. Not at all. Seriously, I was kidding. It was the usual blather from Johnny B. Goode -- that's the song they played after his speech. Has McCain forever tainted Back to the Future for me?

10:08 pm -- McCain won all four contests, by the way. Hoo-wah. And, no, he hasn't tainted BttF for me. It's too good for him to ruin. (Creature: "McCain on the TV. You'd think he would have rehearsed his victory speech a bit more. It's sad really." Yes, really, really sad.

10:12 pm -- Interesting piece at The Politico: "A behind-the-scenes battle broke out late Tuesday over superdelegates who had secretly committed to [Obama], with Clinton campaign officials scrambling to 'freeze' them before they announced support for him." Hey, wasn't the Clinton campaign all about the superdelegates? And now, with some of them switching over to Obama, and with Obama picking up more and more support, it's trying to take away their freedom to vote as they see fit? Ladies and gentlemen, the Clinton campaign! It's ugly, it's dirty, and it's utterly without shame.

10:18 pm -- Josh Patashnik at The Plank, with a bit of a curiosity: "With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Barack Obama has carried Loving County, Texas -- the least populous county in America -- by a tally of seven votes to five." How many precincts are there in Loving County?

10:27 pm -- Creature, from earlier tonight: "I think the best summary of what to expect tonight comes from Obama himself: 'We started at 20 points behind in Texas and Ohio,' he said. 'We closed the gap... We know there is not going to be a huge shift in delegates.' Yes, a wash tonight, barring an unexpected occurrence, is the likely result. And, I'm happy to say, what little punditry I've seen tonight has including detail discussions of "the math" and Hillary's negligible chance of catching Obama when all is said and done."

10:30 pm -- There's also this, from CNN's Bill Schneider: "In what may be bad news for Clinton, Democrats across all four states overwhelmingly say they want super delegates to vote based on which candidate finishes ahead in the pledged delegate count at the end of the primary season."

10:32 pm -- It's tied in Texas, 49-49. Clinton is up 56-42 in Ohio.

10:55 pm -- Clinton has overtaken Obama in Texas, but, as CNN's John King just pointed out, with the interactive map, Obama is doing well in the big urban areas: Dallas, Houston, Austin. The key exception is San Antonio. And the reporting from those areas is lagging well behind the rest of the state. If he keeps up big leads in the cities, he could win. Clinton needs to stay ahead in San Antonio and to win big in El Paso, which has yet to report.

10:58 pm -- CNN has called Ohio for Clinton. No surprise there at all, no matter what her campaign says. So it comes down to Texas. If she wins there, she stays in the race and gets the media boost. If she loses there... what then?

11:17 pm -- Clinton's about to speak. Her supporters are cheering, chanting her name. And she looks like she won the big thing in November. Sorry, but all she's won are Ohio and Rhode Island. It's a little over the top, no? She's in a celebratory mood now -- "Thank you, Ohio!" -- but where was she when she was losing those 11 contests in a row?

11:18 pm -- "This nation's coming back, and so is this campaign... We're going all the way!" Come on, really? The nation is akin to Hillary's presidential campaign? So she won a battleground state -- where she was way ahead in the polls all along. "This is a great night." Oh, I see. And she mentioned Rhode Island. She ignored all those states where she lost, not even thanking her supporters there. "Ohio has written a new chapter in this history of this campaign, and we're just getting started." She's big on the BS tonight, apparently. Her campaign is about "making history," but Obama's isn't? Typically condescending, typically unclassy, typically repellent. She just listed all the states she's won. Um, fine, but Obama's won many more, including some key battleground states. But that doesn't matter to her. She obviously doesn't give a shit about some states, nor about the voters in those states. And she included Florida? It wasn't even a contested election, but she's counting it anyway? Appalling, but we've heard it all before.

11:25 pm -- Oh, great, she mentioned the middle-of-the-night phone call again. Like a good Republican, she plays the fear card whenever she can. But come on, she's never taken one of those calls. It's all so bogus, this talk of experience and preparedness.

11:30 pm -- So she won Ohio, and that's so significant? Look, nothing against Ohio, or Ohioans, but it's one state. That's it. She's making it out to be everything. But at least her speech is over. I really can't stand her anymore. (Creature: "She looks forward to continuing the 'dialogue' with Obama. Wow. If the last two weeks were a 'dialogue,' then what does a firing squad look like? Yeesh." I would add: She doesn't want a dialogue with him, she wants to destroy him. The only way she can win is through a campaign of all-out smearing.)

11:38 pm -- Let's listen to Obama...

11:54 pm -- Poised, dignified, confident. It was shorter than some of his recent election-night speeches, but it was all the more powerful for being so focused, so forceful. Where Clinton is scrappy and petty, Obama is inspirational and profound. She went after him with yet more of her typical negativity, trying to belittle him, but he is not to be belittled. He is one of the truly great political figures of our time, a commanding presence, the leader America needs, the leader the world needs, and he occupies a far grander place than the ugly space of smears and insults that is hers.

12:38 am -- I don't quite share Sullivan's loathing of the Clintons, but here's his quite accurate take on the Clinton campaign: "This is how the Clintons usually prevail -- they grind you down. They don't care what happens to their party or their country (remember the 1990s?). They have no shame and no scruples. They will say anything. But they will never willingly relinquish power or the chance of power. In a free country, that is their right. And I'm not impugning that. But the refusal ever to concede or to champion others or to settle for a mere eight years in the White House is in their blood. You can only defeat them if you treat them as they would treat you. I wonder if Obama can keep his civility and still win." (And we've seen more and more of this in recent days, haven't we? And we'll see more and more of it in the days to come. Her appalling speech tonight only served to prove the point.)

12:47 am - Yglesias: "Chuck Todd is predicting a net win of delegates for Obama in Texas, possibly a net win large enough to overcome Clinton's net delegate pickup in Ohio. If that's even close to correct, then the bottom line is that it continues to be unclear how Clinton can actually win barring some catastrophic Obama meltdown."

1:00 am -- And Texas goes to... Clinton. Well, I can't say I'm not disappointed. Although Ohio could tighten up once the full results come in from Cuyahoga County, Clinton's win there was pretty decisive, and certainly above where the poll had the race there. I suspect that the NAFTA flap had something to do with it, but it was also a tough last week for Obama. The media have turned on him, his campaign handled the NAFTA flap badly (although it seems to have been an insidious effort on the part of our Conservative government up here to undermine him), the Rezko affair entered the news again (with Rezko going to trial), and, of course, the smearing from the Clinton campaign, from Clinton herself, and from his various other detractors took its sordid toll. And, of course, Ohio is a good state for Clinton. As I said earlier, though, he narrowed what was a huge gap. As for Texas, well, I had hoped that a win there would balance out Clinton's expected win in Ohio. He should still win the caucuses, but in terms of the primaries Clinton can count two significant victories tonight. Not much will change in terms of delegates, but the appearance of two such big wins will change the race, or at least the media coverage of the race, which in turn will change the race. By how much? Well, that's the big question.

1:21 am -- And that's it for me tonight. Good night, everyone.

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